Africa's Team Qhubeka ASSOS makes 2021 return after COVID-19 struggles

Team Qhubeka ASSOS founder, Doug Ryder, has said that he was "very emotional" after watching his team's maiden race of 2021, during the opening stages of Etoile de Besseges, in France.

Towards the end of 2020 the team looked likely to close down after struggling to find sponsorship amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The end of Qhubeka ASSOS would have also ended the platform for African riders aiming to ride in the pro peloton.

Team Qhubeka ASSOS, formerly known as NTT Pro Cycling, remains as Africa's only cycling team to be registered by the UCI-registered World Tour.

British cyclist and Olympic Silver medallist Mark Cavendish also featured for the African based cycling team for a time.

"Watching the team on the road in our first race of 2021 was gratifying as there were so many times towards the end of last year, and in the last three months in particular, that we didn't think that we would exist in 2021," said Ryder.

"To see Team Qhubeka ASSOS standing on the team presentation podium in our black and white ASSOS strip with the neon hand and details on the kit was incredible, and very emotional.

The opening stage of the race saw the European and Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo fight for a strong fourth place which he then followed up with an excellent third in a crash-marred second stage.

"A team of riders is made up of brilliant individuals and when they come together with a plan you can make magic happen; and to see the team commit to each other and bring Giacomo to the podium already in our first race in our first race for 2021, was really beautiful to see," he said.

"It just shows how hard this team has worked and how committed they are to each other, to Qhubeka and to our goals as a team. vents.

"The UCI as the governing body of the sport and all of us as teams are working really hard to support each other to make it happen.

"We believe that our team will motivate others and give hope and opportunity to people and continue to create social mobility across the African continent.

"So the year ahead for Team Qhubeka ASSOS is exciting and we are so pleased to be on the road. We thank our fans for their engagement, our current partners for their involvement and we look forward to bringing many new partners into this team as we continue to make an impact that really matters to those in need," Ryder concluded.